A federal high court has ordered the chief executive officers of Citi Bank, Union Bank and 14 other persons to appear before it to answer criminal charges of fraudulent diversion of N10.7 billion belong to a client.
The court issued a writ of summon to C. S. Sankey, chairman, Nigeria International Bank Limited, Citi Bank; Emeka Emuwa, managing director, Union Bank Plc and Olusola Fagbure, legal adviser/company secretary, Citibank, to appear before it on Monday, January 25 in a N10.7 billion criminal charge preferred against them and 14 others by the federal government of Nigeria.
The issuance of the writ of summon and its service to the accused persons on Thursday, January 14, was sequel to an approval by President Muhammadu Buhari for Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, AGF and minister of justice, to relist the case and begin a fresh charge against them for allegedly defrauding Michael Emerah, an Onitsha-based business mogul and chairman/managing director, Micmerah Group of Companies Limited. Emerah was defrauded of huge sums of money in 2001 under the pretence of assisting him import luxury buses and new motor spare parts.
In the writ of summon, the AGF also ordered the restoration of the attorney-general’s fiat earlier granted to Chris Uche, prosecution counsel, to prosecute the case on behalf of the federal government but which was dropped by the former AGF in 2011.
The order came as a result of the action of Mohammed Adoke, former AGF, who entered a notice of discontinuance (Nolle prosequi) of the case in May 2011 and at the same time withdrew the fiat granted to the prosecution counsel.
In a letter conveying Buhari’s order to the complainant in the case M. Abdullahi, deputy director of prosecution of the federation, DDPF, in the federal ministry of justice, stated that Buhari’s order to re-open the case for the interest of justice, was in line with his administration’s change mantra and his determination to revisit all high profile fraudulent cases, aimed at stamping out corruption within the system in all facets of the nation’s economy.
In a strongly worded letter by Emerah to Buhari, dated August 10, 2015, the complainant alleged that the case was discontinued in a corrupt manner by the former AGF.
It is believed Emerah’s complaint prompted an advice from the DDPF to order the re-opening of the case in the interest of justice because of the contentious nature of the case.
Besides, going by the petitions and counter-petitions in the file, the DDPF said that the office of the present AGF was convinced that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute the suspects and that the proper venue to determine the interests of the parties involved should be the court and not chambers of the AGF, so that no party would have a feeling that the ministry of justice could not dispense justice.
Emerah had in the petition to the president, alleged that Uche’s fiat to prosecute the case on behalf of the federal government was fraudulently withdrawn by the former AGF, who equally entered the notice of discontinuance (Nolle pprosequi) in a corrupt manner.
Based on the order for the reinstatement of the charge and restoration of the AGF’s fiat to Uche, the prosecution headed to the federal high court, Lagos and slammed a fresh 20-count charge of conspiracy, diversion of federal government’s revenue into their private pockets, fraud, falsification of documents, presentation of untrue documents, making of forged documents, counterfeiting of documents, corrupt enrichment, obtaining money under false pretence, obtaining property under false pretence, fraudulent invasion of duty, conspiracy to steal, conspiracy to commit felony and untrue declaration against the accused persons which prompted this latest writ of summon by the court to appear before it on January 25.
In the fresh charge before the court, other accused persons in the matter are Peter H. Harris, Adekunle Oladosun, Okechi Emeka Egwu, Lulu Ndubuka, Kabiru Bello, J. E. Eriagbon, a principal staff of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN; Samson Ebie, Steve Obodomechine, Mikky Dons Nigeria Limited, Mark Anaele, Ariyo Oyowole Odunala, Peter Bamidele Oriade and Obianwa Chuba.
In the suit, the prosecution alleged that the accused persons had on or about January 31, 2001 at Lagos State within the jurisdiction of the federal high court, induced Micmerah International Agency Limited, by means of false pretences and with intent to defraud, delivered to themselves through the Citi bank the sum of about N250 million under the guise of being used for offsetting the purported import finance facility.
The prosecution also alleged that the accused persons had on the same date and venue, conspired to commit an offence to wit: to induce Micmerah by means of false pretence and with intent to defraud, to deliver the sum of N55 million to Mikky Dons Nigeria Limited being money meant for payment of Customs Duty on four Volvo Luxury buses and two 40-feet containers imported into Nigeria by the said Micmerah International Agency Limited.
The prosecution further alleged that the accused persons knowingly falsified an affidavit purported to have been sworn to by one Tawa Ibikunle on April, 11 2003 before Lagos State high court justice for the purpose of fraudulently affecting the release of four Volvo luxury buses and two 40-feet containers from Nigeria Customs and Exercise Department.
The accused persons were further charged in count eight for allegedly making forged document, namely Union Bank of Nigeria plc, Customs revenue receipt Nos. CRR: 092802, 092803, 092804, 092805 and 092700 for the sum of N55 million knowing it to be false and with intent that it may be acted upon as genuine and also to defraud Micmerah International Agency Limited and the federal government of Nigeria.
They were also charged for conspiracy to contribute to the economic adversity of the federal government of Nigeria by diverting the sum of N55 million to themselves being money meant for the payment of customs duty in respect of four Volvo luxury buses and two 40-feet containers, property of Micmerah International Agency Limited, adding that they equally obtained the amount by means of false pretences, attempted to evade the payment of same amount into government coffers and conspired to steal and corruptly enrich themselves with the same N55 million.